First Day In Tel Aviv, Israel
The next morning, we got up bright and early for breakfast in the desert and headed over to our final stop of the trip Tel Aviv!
Our very first plan in Tel Aviv involved one of my favourite things – food! It was essentially a food tour through Carmel Market – Tel Aviv’s largest market, selling everything from clothes and trinkets, right through to spices.
Our first stop saw us start the day with smoothie shots (and an oddly large citrus fruit I’ve never heard of before – essential a green “giant lemon”), before working our way to my absolute favourite dish of the afternoon – burekas.
Burekas is actually a Turkish dish and is essentially a savoury stuffed pastry. Made fresh like this, it was just the best way to have them and one that I’ve decided to keep on the look out for whenever I see it on the menu.
We carried on through the market, stopping to try some Halva – which is like a sweet crushed sesame seed treat that comes in a whole variety of flavours (you can also make it with flour apparently but this one here is made with sesame seed).
Now, confession time – I’ve never really been a fan of hummus. Lloyd loves the stuff and would happily eat it by the bucket loads but I’ve always been so “Meh!” about it.
That afternoon changed everything. I don’t know if it was the right combination of being hungry enough and having such freshly made hummus or if the place we were in just had the best hummus (it’s probably the latter to be fair because the reputation of this place precedes it) but I finally got the hype about humus.
It was also at this point I realised I probably didn’t like hummus a lot because I’d been trying the really cheap supermarket type you get back home in the UK, most of which has been stored in fridges for so long and processed in ways that make the taste dull in comparison to the fresh stuff.
Anyway, long story short – I now really like hummus! 😀
From hummus, we moved on to burika, essentially this fried bit of dough with potatoes and eggs put in a sandwich.
By now, you get the drift, we essentially worked our way through the market, stopping off at different stalls for a bit to eat – so much so that by the time we stopped for beers, I was totally stuffed. This was easily one of the best way to have lunch in the city and sample some of the most delicious food in Tel Aviv.
We finished things off though with Malabi, which, if I had to describe kinda reminds me of Pannacotta. It’s essentially a sweet milk pudding, topped with rosewater and chopped nuts. It was so good and is just the kind of dessert you need in that heat. 😀
We then carried on through the city to check out the street art – of which there’s so much in Tel Aviv!
You’ll find it everywhere you look, some which might even surprise you in different hidden corners across the city. This bit, I’ll leave you to find out more about for yourself when you visit.
With that, we decided it was time to head over to an older part of the city – Jaffa.
Jaffa has existed for thousands of years and used to be separate from Tel Aviv until the rapid expansion of Tel Aviv, coupled with the decline of Jaffa, led to it being part of the city.
*Random fact for Brits: Jaffa is actually the place Jaffa Cakes is named after, thanks to their famous Jaffa oranges.
Remember the story of Jonah and the whale (if you don’t take a quick minute to Google it), well Jaffa is around where that was set. It’s also the setting for the biblical stories of King Solomon and Saint Peter as well as the Greek mythology of Perseus and Andromeda.
Jaffa’s heritage has varied over several years (perhaps more prominent of recent times is the Arab heritage) and is still till date one of the most beautiful spots to visit in the city.
You’ve definitely got to check it out when you’re in Tel Aviv, even if just for an afternoon.
Speaking of Jaffa’s Arab heritage, around this part of Tel Aviv, there’s a huge Arab community, which I guess in some ways had lived fairly separately from the other parts of Tel Aviv.
While we were here, we got to pop into the Arab-Jewish Community Center, where we found out more about the city’s Arab heritage as well as the efforts made by the community center to foster stronger bonds between the Arabs and Jews in Tel Aviv.
See, here’s the thing that might surprise a lot of people visiting, especially if you started off your visit in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is known for religion is perhaps more conservative (though obviously not so much so at night 😀 ) while Tel Aviv is a lot more liberal. It’s such a surprising difference between both places and it definitely shows as you make your way through Tel Aviv (which we got to find out more about the next day).
This in large part already helps foster relationships between both communities (as you tend to find in most liberal cities) but the work that the Arab-Jewish Community Center does here is perhaps all the more pertinent for the kids who otherwise wouldn’t get as much of an opportunity to hang out with other kids outside of their religion and heritage.
To say we learnt a lot about Israel on this trip would be something of an understatement.
There are so many sides cultures and heritages in the city that I don’t think I’ve ever even seen hinted at on TV or in the news before and it’s been quite enlightening to get to explore a fair bit of that and find out in a very unfiltered way, what day to day life is like the people (regardless of religion, personal beliefs or heritage) here in Israel.
After having a rather early start to our day, we finished off our evening with an early dinner by the harbour.
In typical Israeli style, all sorts of little dishes began flying out of the kitchen for our starters.
These were soon accompanied by butterfly chicken for Lloyd, with shrimp and squid in garlic butter sauce for myself.
Gorging on the fresh bread that came with the starters, we found ourselves too full for dessert and on the insistence of the restaurant, had some (I have no clue what the name for them is) “tiny honey-soaked doughnuts” for our mini-dessert.
We actually made plans to head out later for drinks on a rooftop in town but by the time we got to the hotel, all those plans went right out of the window.
To be fair though, we did stay in at the hotel to have wine instead, which with the sound of the waves lapping at the shore and the city slowly lighting up, made for quite a great compromise methinks! 😀
Besides, we would have to be up early the next day for easily one of the biggest parties in all of Tel Aviv.
10 points if you can guess what that is. 😀
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